From the months of October until March, ominous dark clouds hang above the east of Peninsular Malaysia, ready to burst with heavy rain and fierce winds. This yearly monsoon in Malaysia renders the islands along the east coast off-limits to tourists. Unless you’re interested in surfing on huge choppy waves, there’s not much to do there during these months. Plus it gets dangerous out there, even for experienced fishermen!
If you want to enjoy a beach getaway in Malaysia, you’ll have to look for other options as islands such as Perhentian, Redang, and Tioman will close for the season. Lucky for you, we’re listing out some gorgeous islands in Malaysia you can still visit during the monsoon season.
Penang is an island state off the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Besides being a picturesque town with rich cultural and historical significance that spans centuries back, it’s also a bona fide
Known across the world for dishes such as Assam Laksa, Char Koay Teow, Rojak, and Nasi Kandar, this is the motherland of authentic street food in Malaysia. You will be spoiled for choice for meals as halal street foods and eateries
from the multi-ethnic society are found here.
In Penang, other than stuffing yourselves with food, there is so much to see and do. Stroll around the fragrant morning markets and inhale the scents and scenes of hawkers preparing breakfast. Drop by the museums, galleries, cafés, preserved pre-war houses and shop lots.
Pay a visit to the architecturally fascinating Khoo Kongsi
complex, walk along the streets of bustling Little India, and stop to pray at Kapitan Keling Mosque (built in 1801!). Follow the route of Penang Art Street
, where you can take fun photos with murals depicting island city life.
Of course, being an island, you can also head to the beach at Batu Feringghi, laze around on hammocks and watch the sunrise or sunset while sinking your toes into the sand and water.
2. Langkawi, KedahCredit: Jakub Michankow on Flickr
Langkawi is one of the best islands to visit in Malaysia during the monsoon season. With beaches that go on for miles and emerald waters glittering in the sunlight almost all year round, it’s the place to be to get some relaxation. It can be a laidback or luxurious holiday depending on where you choose to stay!
Credit:蛋蛋 on Flickr
There are also many things to do in Langkawi to keep you busy. You can visit the Pregnant Maiden Lake, take a dip in hot springs, discover waterfalls such as Telaga Tujuh and Temurun Waterfalls, and explore hiking trails in lush greenery. Let's not forget a visit the historical sites to trace the legend of Princess Mahsuri.
Head out to the mangroves at the KILIM Geoforest Park on an eagle-spotting cruise, and witness other wildlife moving about such as mud crabs, monkeys, and monitor lizards. If you’re reaaaally lucky sometimes dolphins come out to play during these cruises!
Credit: Jim Boud on Flickr
End your trip by going up the cable car at Mount Mat Cinchang and walking along the suspended sky bridge to take in the rainforest-carpeted peaks and the surrounding cluster of islands. On a clear day, you may even see Thailand across the border!
3. Pangkor Island, PerakCredit: Anders Mohlin on Flickr
Situated off the coast of Perak, Pulau Pangkor is another beautiful island in Malaysia to visit during the monsoon season. Just a ferry ride away, this island paradise with low-key village vibes is perfect for a weekend getaway!
Worry not, there is still civilization nearby, with golf courses and plenty of good restaurants as well as historic sites left by the colonial ruling. There are also easy jungle treks to be explored such as the Pangkor Hill Trek.
Credit: @tweetyrah on Instagram
Yes, there are many things to do in Pulau Pangkor too! You can stroll along Nipah Beach and Coral Beach, take in the sea breeze and sip on some coconut water and indulge in freshly grilled seafood. Chattering monkeys, monitor lizards and wild Oriental Pied hornbills can be spotted around the island. Be careful the mischievous monkeys don’t end up stealing your snacks or sunglasses while you lounge on the beach!
Credit: @cassandra_hone on Instagram
For snorkelling, head to the nearby Giam and Mentagor islets. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, don’t miss out on water sports like jetskiing, parasailing, wakeboarding or getting pulled behind a speedboat on an inflatable banana ?
4. Manukan, Mamutik, Gaya and Sapi Islands in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Another year-round beach destination in Malaysia, the west islands of Sabah can be reached from Kota Kinabalu, the quaint seaside capital of Sabah. The Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) Marine Park consists mainly of the Sapi, Gaya, Mamutik and Manukan islands. The TAR Park is beautiful and diverse with marine life, with plenty of spots to dive or snorkel the day away.
Try the longest island-to-island zipline between Gaya and Sapi! You won’t get a more spectacular view of the sparkling turquoise waters than from above. Whoop with joy as you travel speedily from one island to another as the sea breeze whips your hair/hijab around! If you want to catch a spectacular sunset on the South China Sea, head to Tanjung Aru Beach in Kota Kinabalu and see scenes like this.
5. Sipadan Island in Semporna, SabahCredit: Benjamin Hollis on Flickr
With pristine white beaches and waters in every shade of blue, Sipadan Island will take your breath away again and again. Preserved like the piece of real-life art it is, the rich underwater ecosystem is chosen as one of the top 10 diving spots in the world! Sipadan Island is accessible throughout the year although waters can get rough and choppy from January to March. Take a flight to Tawau Airport and head to the village of Semporna, where you can get a boat to the islands.
In Sipadan, soft and hard coral can still be found in abundance. The local authorities have ensured that this miracle of nature is untouched by excessive modernity and the pollution that comes along with it, so permits to dive are limited and you have to apply to get them. Once you get your permits to dive and snorkel, you will discover a whole new world under the sea!
Should you be lucky you may swim across schools of Jackfish or Barracuda as they perform their direction-changing underwater tornado show. Green and Hawksbeak turtles swim serenely in the open expanse and sharks such as Hammerheads, Leopards, and the White-tipped reef shark may swim past closer than you would believe possible!
So don’t be too sad that the year-end monsoon is coming, you can still get your share of beautiful island getaways in Malaysia during the monsoon season. Pack your lounge clothes, swimwear, shades and sunhats now because your beach time is here!